Roman Polanski with Sharon Tate
Roman Polanski was born on August 18, 1933, in Paris. His parents were Polish-Jewish, and they had to return to Poland in 1937, because of the rising antisemitism in France. Polanski's mother died in a concentration camp during WWII. Polanski studied at the Polish State Film School in Lodz during 1954-59, and his early short films, like Two Men and Wardrobe, gained some success.
Polanski's first feature film, Knife in the Water (1962), was a breakthrough also critically, receiving some international reputation, after which Polanski left Poland in 1963. In England he directed Repulsion in 1965, which was followed by Cul-de-Sac (1966) and The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967) which American version was recut by the producers and therefore discredited by Polanski. Polanski moved to the United States, where he directed Rosemary's Baby (1968).
A great personal tragedy struck Polanski in 1969, when Charles Manson's disciples, called the Family, murdered his then-pregnant wife Sharon Tate and some other people in their mansion in Hollywood Hills. The darkened tones of Macbeth (1971), based on Shakespeare's play and filmed in England, could in their part be explained by this experience. In 1973 Polanski directed in France What?, an absurd comedy. 1974 followed with one of Polanski's greatest successes ever, the American film noir variation Chinatown. The Tenant in 1976 was Polanski's attempt to return to the neurotic mindscapes of Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby, this time as a black comedy, though.
In 1978 Polanski fled the United States under the circumstances about which you can read here and here. After returning to Europe, Polanski directed in France Tess (1979), a historical drama. A silence in film-making followed for the next seven years, during which time Polanski published his autobiographical book, Roman (1984).
Polanski's return to silver screen, Pirates (1986), was a critical and commercial flop, but the director continued nevertheless with 1988's thriller Frantic. In 1989 Polanski married Emmanuelle Seigner, who was also the female star of Bitter Moon (1992). 1994's Death and the Maiden had its basis in the cruelties committed by South American military juntas during the 70's. The Ninth Gate (1999) was a supernatural thriller. The Pianist (2002) won Polanski an Academy Award of Best Achievement in Directing. He was not present at the awards ceremony, being a fugitive from U.S. justice since fleeing the country in 1978.
roman polanski main page
Cinema: Directors | Cinema Main Page